The conflict between exploration and history


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The Google X Prize has agreed to recognize the guidelines created by NASA for protecting the historic first landing sites on the Moon.

In glancing at the guidelines, I found it fascinating that it only mentions the Soviet lunar rover sites as an aside, noting their value but stating that

One Lunokhod rover is the property of Russia, and the other has been sold to a private individual. Consequently, NASA has no authority to set conditions on their sites and these USG recommendations do not apply. Nevertheless, the LRRR arrays on each rover are invaluable tools for continuing studies of the Moon and of General Relativity.

Protecting these historic sites is obviously essential, but deciding how much protection they should get will be a battle that will have no good solution. Not only will future lunar colonists want to see these sites (as tourists) but scientists will have good reasons to study them. Yet, any visit will change their pristine nature forever.

As the saying goes, however, “This is a good problem!” When we finally begin to fight it out it will be because humans will finally be establishing permanent colonies on the Moon.

Sadly (for my generation), the problem of what to do with the historic sites on the Moon is not really an issue. Hopefully, the generation growing up today will have to tackle it.

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2 comments

  • wodun

    Hmm, wasn’t an old Russian piece of equipment discovered via some new survey photos a year or two ago by an amateur who then decided to see if it was still working and started communicating with it by shining a laser on it?

    I wonder how interacting in a method like this with defunct equipment would be viewed?

  • Hebo

    I just don’t get why we didn’t continue our lunar exploration. I believe there is probably something in the conspiracy theories available. We could take our pick. Like you, I am at the age now that even with excellerated efforts, I will not live to see the achievements. That ticks me off.

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